Mankind's only alternative 2   JUL.   22  
Mankind's only alternative

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Feature Story July 26, 2002
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 2 of 7
Yoshkar-Ola, the capital of Mari-El, is a post-post-apocalyptic atrocity, pure Soylent Green. I've been to my share of provincial cities across Russia, gladly even, but I've never seen any regional capital as wretched as Yoshkar-Ola, city of 260,000. I can't remember colors there -- not even gray. All that sticks in my mind are the lifeless paneli, concrete boxes. Some half-inhabited, others half-built and abandoned. The vegetation was the color of dust. There were few cars on the chewed roads, which hadn't been repaved in years. Even downtown, we drove on unpaved roads to get to the offices of the local Moskovsky Komsomolets. For some reason there was a huge raft or dingy behind the building, and a dog barking from behind it.

"Why would you want to go to Mari-El?" one Chuvash had asked me before I left. "They're all short, ugly, slant-eyed people. It's depressing over there."

* * *

The best explanation for the high suicide rates is ethnicity. The Mari are a Finno-Urgic people. If the Finno-Urgs will be remembered for one contribution to humanity, it's that they're the suicide champs of the universe. The Mari are always fielding a top suicide relay squad, competing for the world suicide title with Hungary, Udmurtia and Finland. Estonia's rate is about half that of Mari-El's, but that could be because so much of the population there is ethnic Russian and mixed. Or maybe not: Mari-El is only 40% Mari. But it's 100% fucked.

The Mari are also probably the last people in Europe to practice paganism on a wide scale. It's the one thing, along with suicide, that the Mari share with the Chuvash: a late devotion to paganism. The Chuvash only converted in the 18th century.

Then of course there's the drinking problem. Chuvashia, with its high concentration of vodka and beer plants, has one of the worst drunkness problems in all of Russia. Mari-El is just about the poorest republic outside of the Caucuses, depending on which statistics you follow. Mari-El has little except for armaments factories (they make the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles there), secret nuclear missile silos, and hunting areas for the richer Chuvash neighbors. Who the fuck wouldn't drink like a flailing snake fish if they were stuck living in Yoshkar-Ola with no way out? The city was the living incarnation of one of those Platonov novels, that surreal mixture of utter desolation, boredom and hunger creating a sidewalk of famished insectoids.

"It's hard for the dog -- he lives only because he was born, just like me."

* * *

It was a long weekend. Talking. That's all I remember everyone doing from the time I boarded the train at Kazansky Vokzal last Thursday until the time I boarded the train at the Cheboksary Central Train Station four days later, mercifully on my way back to Moscow. My ears were raw.

At Kazansky Vokzal in Moscow, I took an SV lux cabin for about 50 dollars because as a rule I like to be left alone, and the chances are that someone going to Cheboksary can't afford 50 bucks for an SV car.

When I first boarded, and when we first chugged off, I was alone in my cabin. Grateful and alone. That was when Vadim showed his face. A thin younger-thirties Russian male with gold chains, a linen blazer and those weird sandworm-colored fancy sandals that European males like to wear along with their linen blazers. Smiling like one of those people who likes himself. Few things in life are more repulsive than a person who likes himself.

He tried several times to start up conversation with me. I thought to myself, "Is he gay? Is he trying to make a pass at me? Why the hell aren't I ever put into a train compartment with a hot babe? Why am I always stuck with some male chatterbox. Jesus Christ, he's going to have opinions about everything. He's going to tell me what the West is really like, how he's traveled all over Europe and has no desire to go to America because 'there's nothing interesting there.'"

I'm as much a Russophile as the next alienated Westerner -- my father recently even accused me of being a "Russian nationalist" -- so I think I have the right to call a spade a spade when it comes to the downside of Russians: they can talk and talk and talk until pus pours out of your ears.

SHARE:  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at

Living There :
Get Your Putin On: Thanksgiving :
Finally, A Real Elitny Underground Club :

The Nightmare Before Novy God :


Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442